Kolkata: From establishing a separate department for migrant labourers to 150-day work in urban areas on the model of NREGA for the jobless youth of urban areas are driving the Left candidates’ campaign in Kolkata’s Jadavpur and Tollygunge area and even rural Assembly segments like Bhangar.
Jadavpur, which was won by Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] Central Committee member Dr Sujan Chakraborty in the last Assembly elections, had even maintained a winning lead during last Lok Sabha polls, which witnessed rise in support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In the last Assembly Elections, Dr Sujan Chakraborty, leader of the Left Legislative Party, had won by over 20,000 votes. This year he is contesting former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionary turned Trinamool Congress corporator Debabrata Majumdar aka Moloy and former corporator Rinku Naskar, who defected from CPI(M) to the BJP last year.
While Rinku’s defector image is perturbing to the Left and Debabrata had defected from the BJP to TMC, it is said that it is BJP’s ideological parent RSS, which is the main opposition to Sujan Chakraborty in Jadavpur with more opposition contestants swearing allegiance to the RSS in a seat that is considered to be a citadel of the Left even in troubled times. Interestingly, some of the local-level building promoters told a story about Majumdar who is known as ‘Garage Moloy’, for allegedly keeping garages for himself in his ward in exchange of using his corporator position to allow construction of buildings in Jadavpur and nearby areas of Tollygunge .
“In all the five wards (of Jadavpur) Sujan da will maintain an unassailable lead this time,” said Sudip Sengupta, CPI(M) district secretariat member and former state secretary of the Student Federation of India (SFI). Sengupta is also a important part of Chakraborty’s campaign team.
“Sujan Chakraborty has maintained close contact with all of us who are electorates,” said Jayanta Sarkar, aged 50. He said he considered Chakraborty as one of the stars in the state’s political spectrum with close door-to-door connection with people of his assembly segment all through out the year.
From 1987 to 2011, former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya was elected MLA from the Jadavpur assembly segment. After his defeat in 2011, it was Chakraborty who contested in the 2016 Assembly elections elected and defeated TMC’s power minister Manish Gupta.
Chakraborty studied in Jadavpur University and has been maintaining a close connection with people of Jadavpur since his college days, explained Sougata Paul, a school teacher by profession and who, along with Sudip Sengupta and others, runs the People’s Canteen in Jadavpur that started in the lockdown period for the toiling masses of the area.
Bhangar Fights against Hooliganism
In Bhangar, Indian Secular Front (ISF) candidate Noushad siddiqui, who is also a pirjada of Furfura Sharif, is set to take on TMC’s Saiyed Gani. ISF is an alliance partner of the Left and the Congress in the state.
Interestingly, the fight in Bhangar is challenging for the TMC as protests against forcible acquisition of land had swept the area in 2017. Recently, a public meeting at Bijoygunge, where the candidature of Noushad siddiqui was declared in the presence of Left front Chairman Biman Basu, was attended by nearly 50,000 ISF and Left front activists. In the meeting, Left leaders and ISF chief Abbas Siddiqui spoke of construction of a cold storage facility in predominantly agrarian Bhangar area.
In his address, Biman Basu asked people not to give in to EVM manipulators and if needed, to “strike back” while taking more people alongside. He also called to created a safety net around each booth in the assembly segment, which is notorious for vote loot and has seen violence from the ruling TMC. On the next day of the huge rally, some hooligans allegedly belonging to the TMC, torched the home of an ISF supporter for daring to join the rally. The incident happened in Sopa village in Bodra area of Bhangar. On the advice of the police, when Ajij molllah went to police station to lodge complaint, he was allegedly beaten up on the road. Ultimately, three accused of torching the house were arrested by the police.
Babool in Muddy Waters
In the heavyweight assembly segment of Tollygunge, there was neck to neck fight in the last Assembly elections between the Left and the TMC. This year the electorate comprising of nearly three lakh voters is set to make a choice among cine activist Debdoot Ghosh, former central minister Babool Supriyo who resigned from Lok Sabha to contest the Assembly elections, and state Youth Affairs minister Aroop Biswas.
“Wherever we are going, we are earning rave response,” Debdoot told NewsClick. Another thing which is hampering Supriyo’s prospects is his alleged role in the Asansol riots which broke out in 2018. Tollygunge is known as place of communal harmony and Babool’s ill fame and communal approach is turning many voters off, said Rakhi Chakraborty, a left activist from Ward 97 of Kolkata Municipal Corporation.